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Latrobe OKs bridge purchase

Mary Pickels
| Monday, Nov. 9, 2015, 10:51 p.m.
The 205-foot Lynn Avenue steel bridge in Bethlehem, built in 1928, could be relocated to Latrobe and span the Loyalhanna Creek at Unity Street for a trail project to connect downtown Latrobe and St. Vincent College.
The 205-foot Lynn Avenue steel bridge in Bethlehem, built in 1928, could be relocated to Latrobe and span the Loyalhanna Creek at Unity Street for a trail project to connect downtown Latrobe and St. Vincent College.

Latrobe council members Monday agreed to authorize city manager Wayne Jones to pursue acquisition of a historic Northampton County bridge, along with grants for acquiring and erecting the span over Loyalhanna Creek.

The vote was not unanimous.

The 205-foot steel bridge was built in 1928 to carry Lynn Avenue in the city of Bethlehem over railroad tracks.

City officials are exploring applying with the state Department of Transportation to have the bridge moved this spring through a federal program.

According to PennDOT, its design — a variation of what is known as a Parker truss with a single-span camelback — and age make it historic.

If moved 250 miles to Latrobe, it could span Loyalhanna Creek at Unity Street to carry a bike trail from St. Vincent College into Legion-Keener Park.

Construction of the trail, planned to be 1.9 miles long and 12 feet wide, began in April off Devereaux Drive in Unity.

“My question is, what do we do with the bridge if we get it before we are ready for it? Where do you store a bridge?” Mayor Rosemarie Wolford said.

Financing would have to be in place prior to acquiring it, Jones said.

Councilman Michael Skapura asked if the bridge was long enough to span the creek.

“With the right embankment, (200 feet) is enough,” Jones said.

Final costs to the city are not known, he said.

“Right now we are just investigating. We are not spending any money, we are not making a commitment,” Wolford said.

“We have to make an application,” Jones said.

Council members Skapura, Julie Bisi, Madalyn Smith and Wolford voted in favor of acquiring the bridge.

Trisha Caldwell-Cravener and Gerald Baldonieri voted against the motion.

“I feel that bridge is someone else's problem. If we bring it here, it would be our problem,” Caldwell-Cravener said after the meeting.

She said she was concerned about transportation and maintenance costs.

“I just don't think we need it,” Baldonieri said.

He also said he did not think the project was worth spending money on.

Councilman Fabian Giovannagelo was absent.

In other business, council :

•Approved a three-year contract with police Chief Jim Bumar, with a salary of $85,000 in the first year and rising to $89,000 in the third year.

•Adopted a sign ordinance to make directional signs and banners for businesses look more uniform. Participating businesses would pay $425 for costs of sign, post and installation and an annual $150 sign maintenance fee.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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